Do you know that January is Glaucoma Awareness month? Glaucoma is also called “sneak thief of sight”. This eye disease covers a wide range of people, doesn’t have any signs before the onset of it, and cannot be cured. Thus, during Glaucoma Awareness Month stated by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), people who are at high risk of glaucoma are suggested to do the screening. Our previous article About Glaucoma has generally introduced the symptoms and causes of glaucoma. In this read, two main types of glaucoma will be introduced. And at the end of the article, you will know where to get more resources about glaucoma.
Two Main Types of Glaucoma
Based on World Report on Vision provided by World Health Organization (WHO), there are 76 million people with glaucoma in 2020 as estimated. Pathologically increased intraocular pressure (IOP) is a major risk factor for glaucoma. IOP leads to optic nerve damage through two mechanisms: mechanical compression and optic nerve ischemia. However, it’s not the only reason that can cause glaucoma. Age, race, family medical history, nearsightedness, specific diseases, and other factors could all put you at risk. To understand glaucoma more, this section will introduce two main types of this eye disease.
Primary open-angle glaucoma
Primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) is the most common type of glaucoma. It doesn’t have any early symptoms or feelings until the vision starts to lose. The cause of POAG is usually related to the high IOP. Typically, our eyes need to eliminate waste fluid to maintain normal functions. The IOP would rise when the eyes cannot release the wastes and the fluid might be clogged in the eyes.
The symptoms of POAG can hide over years till people lose sight of vision. It would be the peripheral vision at the beginning, and then the central vision loses as well with time going by. Once the vision is lost, patients cannot regain it anymore. In this case, the earlier the disease can be detected, the more people can slow the progression of vision loss with glaucoma. The preliminary intervention often focuses on using medications and eye drops, and if the treatment of POAG doesn’t perform effectively in this way, the relevant surgery would be taken into account.
Acute angle-closure glaucoma
Acute angle-closure glaucoma ranks top 2 in the list of the most common glaucoma types. Differing from POAG, the cause of this kind of eye disease is due to the rapid elevation of IOP, and it’s relatively more infrequent than POAG. Acute angle-closure glaucoma occurs accompanying a variety of symptoms: blurred vision, headaches, eye pain, nausea, and sudden vision loss. If you experience these symptoms, it’s crucial to meet your eye doctor immediately to have your eyes checked.
Acute angle-closure glaucoma has a higher incidence rate among women, and people who are over 40 are also at high risk. Glaucoma surgery is the common treatment type to cope with this condition. Removing a part of the edge of the iris can help the eyes to eliminate the waste fluid, which recovers the eye functions to operate. Also, it’s essential to stay attuned to the situation of the eyes after the operation, in order to avoid further bad effects.
Protect Your Eyes from Glaucoma
The influence of glaucoma is irreversible, and people can only realize it when it's getting serious. This is the reason that ophthalmological experts emphasize the necessity of early recognition. Some of the measures in the following paragraphs are designed to protect your eyes from glaucoma as much as possible.
Regular Eye Exams
The exams including glaucoma tests help people escape from the severe negative consequences of glaucoma and other eye conditions. Meanwhile, professionals indicate that with early catch, doctors can apply effective medical means to treat glaucoma, which could be likely to control the symptoms of glaucoma and maintain the vision function of the patients for their entire life.
Monitor blood pressure
As it’s mentioned several times, the main reason that causes glaucoma is the high pressure of the eye. People with hypertension, therefore, are at high risk of glaucoma as well. In this way, monitoring blood pressure can help not only observe body health but also find out the risk of glaucoma eye as early as possible. Once the patients notice abnormal blood pressure, they are supposed to communicate with the doctors and have appropriate examinations timely.
Know the family history of glaucoma
A family history of the disease might be one of the contributing factors to glaucoma. As a hereditary disease, there are plenty of people around the world suffering from glaucoma. People who have a family history of glaucoma possess a higher possibility to get the disease. Knowing the family history of glaucoma can remind people to pay more attention to glaucoma symptoms and do eye exams regularly.
Getting into the habit of doing exercises directs to innumerable benefits. Exercising is helpful for diminishing potential sub-health issues by having a healthy body. It can be considered as a part of glaucoma treatment, which could decrease the risk of diabetes or hypertension in case to prevent glaucoma. Before developing your exercise habit, don’t forget to talk to your doctor in advance to make a suitable exercise plan.
Resources of Glaucoma
Worldwide scholars keep doing research on treating glaucoma, and it’s good to know that current treatments can mostly control the influence of glaucoma. If you are interested in supporting research on treating glaucoma, you could find a way to donate through the following link:
The inspiring news is that more and more countries are providing resources both to screen for the disease and treat it. Some website links are collected in the table below, and on these websites, you could find useful detailed information.
|US||EyeCare America Program||https://www.aao.org/eyecare-america|
|UK||National Health Service||https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/opticians/free-nhs-eye-tests-and-optical-vouchers/|
|Gurgaon, India||Relevant news||https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/now-free-glaucoma-screenings-in-2-hosps-twice-a-week/articleshow/90160305.cms|
|Western Cape, South Africa||The Eye Care/Prevention of Blindness Programme||https://www.westerncape.gov.za/service/eye-careprevention-blindness-programme|
In the United States, citizens who have Medicare and are at high risk of glaucoma can have a glaucoma test once a year. AAO has corresponding welfare as well. People who are over 65 could have a glaucoma test by applying for the AAO’s EyeCare America Program usually at no cost. An organization called Prevent Blindness also offers free resources for the glaucoma community. On their official website, you can have more information. The organization also accepts donations for providing better benefits. In Europe, the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom gives free eye tests. The eligibility is demonstrated on their website as well.
Free glaucoma screening in India is usually provided during World Glaucoma Week, which happens in March. For example, in Gurgaon, free tests started on March 7th at two government hospitals in 2022. From the link in the table, you could see the relevant news and keep an eye on the plan for 2023. In the Western Cape, South Africa, the Eye Care/Prevention of Blindness Programme shows instructions for a series of eye conditions. On the website, you can have more details, and the primary health care level would be free of charge.
If you’re interested in the resources of glaucoma in other countries, please let us know on Facebook @Zoomax.
Glaucoma can cause blindness as a grave consequence, and it’s also one of the leading reasons of blindness. Thus, any slight changes of your eyes should not be ignored. In Glaucoma Awareness Month, share the article and let your loved one know more about glaucoma from now on!